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  •  Wisconsin is a blue state only every four years (none)
    Wisconsin will be the number-one target, the Ohio, in the next presidential election.  Please do not count on it as "the progressive state."  Remember, the Progressives were Republicans --
    and white, male Republicans.  It is white men who still run the state legislature here, and they just picked up more seats in both houses:
    in the Assembly, a guy who boasts of belonging to a rod-and-gun club); in the state Senate, a   guy who is an absolutist anti-abortionist -- i.e., no exceptions for rape, incest, etc.

    Both had been Dem seats.  Now, with mushy Dems, the GOP legislators will have enough votes to override vetoes by the governor -- the first Democratic governor in well more than a decade.  Last year, he saved gun control by one vote.  

    Next on the GOP agenda here is a "health care worker conscience" bill that barely lost last year, and now they have the votes.  This will
    make it legal the next time, as happened here last year, a pharmacist refuses to fill women's prescriptions for birth control -- and refuses to give back the prescription slips, so women can take them elsewhere.  And many small towns in the state have only one druggist.  Plus, the bill allows doctors, nurses, etc., to put personal beliefs above professional oaths.

    This in a Wisconsin that never has been, believe me, progressive for women.  In a "report card" for all states in 2000, Wisconsin got an F in reproductive rights.  Overall, it got a C-, as Wisconsin also is below the national norms in women's education and women's income.  Yes, that means the majority of Wisconsinites, women, are below national norms in education and income -- making them just the sort of voters Rove seeks.

    Yes, we just sent another woman to Congress from Wisconsin -- but only the second one ever from Wisconsin, the last state ever to have a woman in Congress, in 1999.  And she was from Madison
    (which is NOT like the rest of Wisconsin).  This time, the reason Gwen Moore of Milwaukee won was an infusion of national funding and support, i.e., Emily's List (although it is supposed to go only to prochoice candidates facing anti-abortion candidates, and all four candidates in the primary for Congress, men as well as women, were prochoice -- but apparently, Emily's List also wanted to back an African-American woman).

    And the GOP legislature here has, for years, hit and hit and hit again on the vaunted educational system of the University of Wisconsin.  The hit last biennium was huge, a quarter of a billion dollars.  Tuition went up, class size went up, the number of parttime instructors went up (aka wage slaves, few with benefits), and the number of faculty went down (with hardly any new hires to fill vacancies from retirements, resignations, etc., as many began to bail, as there were no raises last year and only one percent this year).  At the second-largest campus in the UW, in Milwaukee, there are fewer than 700 faculty for more than 27,000 students.

    The budget battle begins again this week, and it will be worse -- at least a 10 percent cut again . . . to guarantee fewer college graduates in Wisconsin, a group more likely to be Democrats than high school graduates, Bush' big-gain group.

    I had predicted to friends, a few days ago, that the GOP legislative leadership's main problem would be to hold back the troops from putting a same-sex marriage amendment on the ballot until 2008, to use that to turn Wisconsin red next time around.  I was right -- except, as today's paper tells us, the plan is to put it on the ballot here in 2006, to defeat the Dem governor.

    Please, please: Help Wisconsin, the state with the closest margin on the blue side this time.   What was a battleground state will be bloody, and we will look back on this year as but a skirmish.  I only hope we don't look back to this year as the last time Wisconsin was blue.

    And please help now.  No need to wait for 2008.  For all those of you looking for a reason to stay organized, a reason to keep the momentum of 2004, we could use you now to work on the 2006
    legislative and gubernatorial campaigns.  You can bet that the GOP here already has begun working toward turning us even redder in 2006,
    figuring the rest of you won't notice until 2008.

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